Business network in the digital ageAugmented Reality is the next big thing in online shopping. Although it is regarded as the “future”, the concept and the technology is already here – and given the huge potential, it is a marketing theme that will be used for many years to come.

So what is augmented reality? Essentially, they are computerised graphics that are superimposed over images to give users an integrated real world view through a device. For example, some retailers have developed an app that allows you to see how you would look in a pair of shades.

In other words, with AR, your website is not just a shop window – it’s your entire shop!

Augmented reality today

Augmented reality was first used in the aerospace industry by Boeing Co. to overlay images on complex wiring diagrams. The early adopters of the technology has notably been online retailers. Inspired by AR’s ability to superimpose an image over a photograph, companies can show customers what their product will look like on them or in their home.
One of Europe’s leading Jeweller’s De Beers use AR to allow visitors to “virtually” try on a piece of jewellery to see how they look. The cosmetic company, Shiseido also allow customers to see how they would look in different colours of make-up.

Furniture companies have also been stealing the act. IKEA was one of the first home brands to use augmented reality to allow visitors to see how the bookcase or armchair they are considering looks in their home. By taking a picture of the space they have in mind, users were able to superimpose an image of furniture and get a perfect picture of how their room will look.

Potential for augmented reality

Retailers are not the only industry that can benefit from AR. The potentials are extensive and enterprises in real estate, architecture, engineering, design and health care are all developing ways of using AR.

Kitchen designers are using 3D CAD models customers can virtually walk through to see how their home will look. Rightmove.com, a property website in the UK, used AR with a mobile app that allowed users to determine whether there was any property on a particular street that was for sale or rent.

Augmented reality also offers solutions to the problems manufacturers are experiencing with NFC technology. With AR, cashiers will be able to send barcodes directly to smartphones so they can be scanned.

Augmented reality is the balance between the virtual world and the real world, and by bringing them together, customers get the opportunity to “try before they buy.” See, dreams can come true!